Opposition leaders say they are in touch with each other but will decide shape of alliance and if it will be state-specific or a national one after 11 December.
New Delhi: Senior opposition leaders are keeping their fingers crossed for 11 December, when results of the assembly elections in five states will be announced, saying the outcome will play a vital role in determining the contours that any non-BJP alliance will take.
The opposition leaders told ThePrint that they have been reaching out to each other but added that the nature of any proposed alliance will only be clear after the results are declared.
“We are reaching out to each other. But it’s too early to firm up anything,” said a senior opposition leader from a regional party. “It will be only after 11 December that opposition parties will be in a position to decide on the alliance, its shape and whether it will be state-specific or a national alliance.”
The leader also said that his party is in talks with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) for a tie-up in the North Indian states for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The proposed alliance, though, has been through setbacks, particularly in the run-up to the five assembly elections.
Talks between the BSP and the Congress broke down, resulting in the two parties not contesting together in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The regional parties have also allied together, without the Congress.
While the BSP has tied up with Ajit Jogi’s Janta Congress in Chhattisgarh, the SP is in an alliance with the Gondwana Gantantra Party in Madhya Pradesh. In Rajasthan, the SP has tied up with Left parties.
Both the SP and BSP have blamed the “non-accommodating” nature of the Congress for their decisions.
‘Opposition unity intact, BJP spreading lies’
The opposition leaders, though, dismiss charges that there is no opposition unity. The charges have only gained credence due to the lack of a decisive coalition for the five states.
“It is the BJP that is spreading this view of there being no unity in the opposition alliance,” Sharad Yadav, head of the Loktantrik Janata Dal, told The Print. “All the non-BJP parties realise that if they have to defeat the BJP they will have to come together on a common platform.”
Yadav’s party has been given two seats by the Congress in Rajasthan, where elections are scheduled for 7 December.
The socialist leader said that right from the time the BJP-led NDA assumed power in 2014, opposition parties have joined hands on a number of occasions to take on the government.
“The government brought the land acquisition bill in the Rajya Sabha just three to four months after it came to power. I led the opposition charge. Soniaji was also with me. There was a debate and the government was forced to withdraw the bill,” Yadav said.
“Similarly, three more times the government was defeated in the Rajya Sabha. Would this have been possible without opposition unity?”
The importance of stitching an alliance to take on the BJP is not lost on opposition party leaders. “Everybody realises that the numbers required to take on the BJP will come only if non-BJP opposition parties come together. No party on their own can defeat the BJP,” said a senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader.
The BJP’s strength in the 16th Lok Sabha, after a string of losses in bypolls, stands at 272 while the Congress, the principal opposition party, has got just 49 seats.
‘No need to name face of the alliance now’
Yadav also said that the opposition parties were not going to announce any face for the alliance before the 2019 Parliamentary elections.
“Before the United Progressive Alliance government came to power in 2004, was there any face of the alliance? It was only after the elections that Manmohan Singh was named the Prime Minister,” Yadav said.
“When Deve Gowda became PM, was his name announced before the elections? I don’t think there is a need to name the face of the alliance right now.”
A senior NCP leader, who did not want to be named, said that opposition parties who are in talks with each other have informally discussed the issue and are of the opinion that no name should be announced as the face of the alliance.
On Congress’ role
The Telugu Desam Party chief and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu had earlier this month said that no opposition alliance was possible without a national party such as the Congress.
But some of the prospective partners, including the SP and BSP, are waiting to see how the Congress performs in the five states before deciding on whether and in what form they will ally with the party.
“A lot will depend on how Congress performs. Right now everybody is in a wait and watch mode,” a senior opposition leader, who did not want to be named, said.
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